Start here

There’s a fair bit of information on this site about different aspects of digital TV, and other topics too. So, to help you find some of the most useful bits, here are some of the most important things that you should read.

Want to watch TV in HD?

These days most pepole have a TV set that’s fine for HD – it’s pretty hard to find one that isn’t. But if you have something old, it’s worth checking if you’re ready for HD.

For those with an HD set, you need to learn how to set it up properly. And since sound is just as important, you may want to read my introduction to surround sound.

You have a choice of satellite or terrestrial (cable too, if it comes past your door, but I’m not covering that much here). If you don’t want to pay a subscription, that means Freeview or Freesat.

You might be thinking about buying a brand new 4K or “Ultra High Definition” TV set. My advice is that you shouldn’t, at least not yet. You may also want to think about whether or not the ‘smart’ stuff in a TV is worth it.

Freeview: HD through your aerial

If it’s Freeview you want to know about, then take a look at my Q&A on Freeview HD. And if someone’s telling you that you need a special aerial for HD services, take a look here to learn why they’re being economical with the truth. There will be some eventual changes to Freeview HD over the coming years, as frequencies are shuffled around. You can read what that means for people with older equipment here.

Freesat: HD via a satellite dish

In some areas, satellite is your best bet for HD pictures. If you already have a dish, and want to add a Freesat receiver, you need to learn how satellite cabling works first. For an overview of what Freesat is, and why it’s important, turn to this article, and for the details of surround on Freesat, look here. If you’re good at DIY, you can even install your own dish.

What can I watch?

There are slightly different channels available on Freeview and Freesat, and it’s not always possible to make all the channels appear on all the different services. Find out why.

Many HD boxes allow you to access material over your home network, either from other computers in the home, or from internet TV services (like iPlayer or YouTube). Here’s how to connect your HD box to your network.

Stuff that’s not about TV

There’s a fair bit of information on this site about topics besides digital TV, some of which you may find useful. Here’s what I think is the best:

Do you know your consumer rights?
Despatches from the war on sex
TV licence – the worst option except all the others?
You’re next – Ashley Madison, outing and little lists

7 Replies to “Start here”

  1. Hi Nigel,

    I’m trying to find out if any BBC iPlayer HD programmes are transmitted in Dolby Digital (like the ‘Live’ programmes), and if not, why not, and also any plans for it in the future?

    Your thoughts appreciated



    1. I don’t believe they are; certainly, I don’t get that from the Roku box I’m using, which has an iPlayer app and is capable of Dolby Digital from Netflix streams. Nor have I noticed it on any of the other platforms with the app built in.

      I suspect that there are two main reasons; the first is bandwidth requirements for 5.1 audio, and the second is that iPlayer has typically been developed from the PC/web perspective, where 5.1 isn’t really that common. Until recently, there have been relatively few devices that could play the HD streams, and few of those manage to output surround from internet content.

      However, now that iPlayer is available on more devices, some of which are capable of outputting 5.1, there may be more of a reason to develop it. I’ll try to see what I can find out.

  2. Hi Everyone,

    I am asking this question on behalf of my dad who works in security.
    He operates from a porter cabin style office.

    There is no internet connection he can use and wishes to be able to watch sky sports through the aerial. I have read many posts on here about this but the vast amount of information confused me.

    I have sky at my home address through my sky package and my dad is welcome to use the 2nd device feature sky offer is that is possible.

    It is important to note that he has no internet connection but would like to watch sky sports for the football. He doesn’t mind purchasing a box to enable him to do this but is unsure which one is best. He works longs hours and I would like to figure this out for him.

    Thank you.

    1. Unfortunately, though some of the sports channels were available for a time on Freeview, that’s no longer the case. The company that handled subscriptions, TopUpTV, has ceased broadcasting. So, the only option is likely to be a mobile internet subscription now, or a portable satellite dish.

  3. Thanks Nigel,

    I did mention to him about the mobile internet option but we discussed how streaming full football matches and full movies would use up the data allowance in no time. Think the higest one I have seen was on three and was a mere 15gb per month.

    I dont know much about the portable satellite option but read somewhere a man took one caravaning and watched his sky subscription on it of what I can remember from reading.

    I will have a look around for a good portable satelite dish set up for him. Is there one you can reccomend? would he have to use a freesat box then pick up with dish by subscribing to sky? its mainly the football he is after and movies would be a welcome bonus.

    Thanks on behalf of my dad

    1. There are some ‘unlimited’ options on three, but you’re right, you would probably use the allowance up fairly quickly.

      Setting up a portable satellite dish is no different to doing it on a house, except you do it over and over again. To watch Sky, you will need a proper sky box, and a card – you could use the additional option on your account for that, though it would probably be a breach of the Sky T&Cs, technically.

      For the dishes, and advice, take a look at the site

  4. Thanks Nigel,

    I will look into the dishes and try to use my second device option as I sometimes use it also 😉

    Shame I can’t use the Nowtv box instead of topup tv

    Thanks for your advice Nigel and the link you provided, have a nice xmas! 🙂

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